As the two pillars of the modern renewable energy story, wind and solar power have long been associated with each other. Now, a new project in Minnesota coming online this August aims to bring them even closer together, integrating the two renewable energy sources into a single commercial project at Red Lake Falls, a first for the US.
That’s according to GE Renewable Energy, which is supplying the project, being developed by Juhl Energy, with wind and solar equipment. GE Renewable is providing 2, 2.3 MW wind turbines, and 1MW of solar power conversion equipment from by GE’s Current business to the project.
GE’s Wind Integrated Solar Energy (WiSE) technology platform will allow the project to integrate the solar panels through the wind turbine’s converter directly. Solar panels provide DC electricity, while wind turbines produce AC electricity, so the conversion process will allow them to produce grid-ready, AC-electricity. The WISE system, developed by GE’s Global Research Center allow the wind and solar components of the system to share the same equipment. The company said it will result in an increase of net capacity by up to 4 percent and boost annual energy production by up to 10 percent.
“By leveraging the complementary nature of wind and solar, this unique project shows how GE is driving technology innovation that will help customers deliver more renewable energy in an even more efficient manner,” said Pete McCabe, CEO of Onshore Wind for GE Renewable Energy. The project will play to each renewable resource’s strong points where the solar solar power will provide peak energy in the summer while the wind power provides peak energy in the winter.
“Most energy experts agree that distributed generation will play a major role in the implementation of renewable energy in the US electrical market in the years to come. Juhl Energy’s package design, with the GE hybrid technology, can economically blend clean, renewable energy into the grid at lower cost, plus add reliability to the system,” said Dan Juhl, CEO of Juhl Energy.
While this is the first commercial hybrid wind/solar project in the US, other countries have already launched their own hybrid wind/solar projects. Gamesa launched a 2 MW hybrid project in Spain in 2016, for instance. Already more hybrid wind/solar projects are underway in the US. In fact, the next such project could be in Minnesota as well. In January Xcel Energy proposed a plan to re-power the Woodstock Hills wind farm with 9.2 MWs of wind generation and 1.0 MW of solar generation.
GE Renewable said it anticipates growth hybrid solar/wind projects globally. The US market for such projects was valued at $195 million in 2015, the company said, citing a report by Global Market Insights. By 2024 it could reach $300 million in US and globally, $1.47 billion by then.Tweet